I am putting in a home theater that I want to use for a music listening room too. The goal is putting together something amazing. I joined the forum because I've been looking for a good source of information whose livelihood doesn't depend on me buying what he/she sells.
The list below (suggested by a local retailer and leading candidate to sell it to me) is just the equipment for the room and I'm looking for the Forum's insight on how they would amend it. Only the first two items have been purchased. Everything else is open to revision. If you're looking for a number, the current budget is $150,000 for the equipment only. Installation and setup costs are on top. The only things I'm keeping from the current setup is an Apple 4k TV and the air in the room. Everything else goes. I have a 1Gb internet speed connection in the room if that is helpful.
Rather than get into room configuration and its important role in the choice, assume that the list below is appropriate for the room.
Wow, nice budget and the potential is incredible. I just completed my third theater room in 12 years. My current room is 15' D x 20'W and seats six. This is the smallest of all of the TR's that I built. The difference is that mine is a dedicated theater room, as I have a separate two channel listening room.
Well, you hit a home run with the Projector choice. I was going to buy that one also until I unfortunately became functionally blind a couple of months ago. Therefore, I thought why spend that money if I can't see the detail and brightness of the picture. Sp I opted for a way less Sony 695 version. It is OK. My screen is a 130" Severtson thin bezel bright white. They are used in many movie theaters.
It is just my opinion but you lost me when you said B&W speakers. I considered them in my second house but found the sound to be dull and uninspiring. Even for two channel listening, I am not a fan of B&W...Again my personal preference. I think you can do much better. In my latest house I decided to give Tekton a try. Eric, custom built me a 5.2.2 in wall system of Double Impact speakers including Atmos. Having these giant speakers built into the wall works great for my situation and the subwoofers are humongous.
Are you going to do In wall speakers? If so, you may want to look at Focal, Legacy Silhouette, Wisdom or even a custom built Tekton. However, if you are going to do floor-standers, then you really need to broaden your search. A friend of mine had an all Wilson Audio / McIntosh system and it was really good and high end. He also had the high end Sony projector and the picture was close to OLED levels.
I don't ever think you can go wrong with Mac equipment. Solid equipment, good quality and decent resale. It is especially good for a HT. I think it is overpriced for a two channel system and it would not be my first, second or third choice.
My system includes Control 4, same as my last theater room. it controls the whole house including the garage and outdoor patio and pool speakers. I had an OPPO 105D in my prior house that I never used so I opted to totally stream in this house.
Are you leaning toward more two channel listening or movies and sports? Have you thought about a combination of in wall and floor-standers? That way you can get better front speakers for two channel listening. You need a good power conditioner. i have an Inakustic 3500 P. Are you getting a DAC? Music Server?
I love your budget. You can buy a lot of great components. My theater room did not cost anywhere nears what yours is but if you add the two channel portion it compares. I just happen to love music more than TV / Movies / Sports. You can see mine on willgolf's virtual system. Good Luck and have fun. Take your time picking out your speakers.
Good questions. You're not nosy at all. My friends who play poker tell me if you can't spot the patsy when you sit down to a game, it's you. I didn't have to spend much time reading threads on Audiogon to realize I am the patsy here.
80% movies, 20% 2 channel music, but I've heard if you get a good theater system you'll find yourself listening to more concert films.
Sound performance characteristics - I do love the accuracy that I've heard from Martin Logan and have no great love for over-mixed bass. I also think I don't have enough experience to answer the question as well, nor as thoughtfully as I would like to.
Magnolia - yes.
Others - My background is as a retail box consumer who has only just become aware of different/better options. So I've not listened to many. The best sound I've ever heard was Nautilus speakers with Mcintosh amps at a local high-end store. The descriptions I've read of Sonus Faber make me think I would like those.
Walls - Yes, to the covering. No to the location of the walls. It's an existing room that I won't be able to change the shape or size.
Willgolf - I'm sorry to hear of the declining sight. That must be very hard, especially for a home theater enthusiast.
I appreciate your comments on the B&W. I think of them as the prettiest girl at my very small school of experience. Certainly open to better (prettier) experiences now.
I am planning on in-wall speakers on the sides. I was thinking the floor standing speakers will give a better performance than speakers in the wall for the front (but open to education). No thought either way about in the back of the room.
I did feel like I was getting steered to Savant. My experience with Control4 is limited to a Las Vegas hotel I like. It seemed straightforward and that appeals to me.
I am thinking about a music server. I know even less about those though.
I agree about the power conditioner. They spec'd a Mcintosh one in what I have, but I have no idea on how to judge those, past knowing I need one.
I dunno, you are ready to spend serious money and you are dealing with what amounts to a box shop. It’s probably a stronger home theatre set up than a stereo rig, but that’s just my impression based on reading the list you provided. I did a couple of different rooms over the years with large projection systems and racks full of pretty serious equipment, but always kept the two channel stereo system separate. There was one point in my life where the last thing I wanted to do when I got off a flight was come home and fiddle with a tonearm- I just wanted to press a remote control and see a movie. There came another point in my life where the home theatre system was literally collecting dust and when I moved, I gave away the 6 foot tall custom Mid-Atlantic racks to a friend who does pro-sound, along with most of the video equipment, which was dated. Given the current plague, it isn’t easy to travel to see, hear and evaluate some other systems that high end dealers can offer. I think the trick, especially if this is somewhat new to you, is to visit those dealers in the US that purport to offer the best with your black card firmly locked away. And see what their systems designer can do-- since that is part of it too- the aesthetics of the gear in the room tend toward ugly in my estimation, unless you are a gearhead. (For example, it sounds silly, but if I were watching a movie, I wouldn’t be interested in the green glow of McI stuff in the room. Yeah, I know, you can turn off the displays altogether). I’m not going to recommend equipment brands-- I will say this, though: home theatre sound is entirely different than two channel stereo. Given your priorities, maybe that’s OK. This could be a hugely fun project and I don’t want to rob you of any of the joy of it; to the contrary, there are shops in the US that can really put things together and your budget might be strained, but you’ll get a sense of what is possible and work from there. PS: I was a denizen of NYC and environs for decades, but starting living in Austin part-time around 2012 and relocated to Austin in 2017. I've found Texas, much as I love it, to be a virtual wasteland for high end audio. (Not so sure about video b/c I don't really focus on that anymore). There are some serious systems here, but depending on where you are, you may be forced to travel to see and hear some of this stuff.
Maxwave - I agree a local installer is a requirement. The same lack of depth in the equipment that leads me to ask for the views of the Forum on it, has me convinced that I wouldn't do the setup without a professional.
Also, you guys are starting to change my view on the setup. Where I was thinking the 800 d3 could do double duty as a front speaker for the HT and a main speaker for the audio system, I may be better off with Tekton HT setup and a separate if co-located HiFi system.
I own B&W D3 speakers. They can be dull sounding on some equipment, but they can also be excellent sounding with the right stuff.
Since you are saying 80% home theater, I would think carefully about the McIntosh amps. McIntosh has great sound and many love it, but they have a very laid back sound. This type of sound may just not be exciting enough for home theater / movie purposes. In my opinion, I think you'll keep trying to turn it up or trying all sorts of other things to make the system work (i.e. silver cable, fuses, room treatment, etc.). I have heard McIntosh with some speakers and it sounded really special, but it was still too laid back for me. I have also heard McIntosh top end monoblocks with McIntosh speakers and it was so dull and boring sounding to me.
Magnolia is likely pushing all these items because they sell them. Like soix indicated "welcome to the machine".
hah, don't start asking for speaker suggestions here because you will get 12 different opinions, and everybody says their suggestion is the "absolute best". Speaker choice is almost personal because everyone has different opinions on "what is the best". I try to respond with how I think something will sound rather than trying to sell one over the other.
Now that we know a little bit more about you, my answer changes a little bit. If you're 80% movies, tv, sports then your projector is spot on. I said Mac has good equipment but given how you intend on using that room, you are totally wasting your money on Mac and i don't care how rich you may be. The projector is so important in a theater room. You definitely need acoustical paneling and bass traps. As other readers stated 90% of the sound comes from the left, right and center speakers. You mentioned Martin Logan ----decent in wall speakers. The best I have ever hear for in wall speakers are the Legacy Siljouette, I say that because from a musical perspective they are outstanding. Think about movies you are watching....you are not hearing piano chords, guitar frets, sax or cello instrumentation. You are basically hearing a big tv with an occasional slam. All of my theater room seating have bass amp modules in them so everytime there is a slam during a movie you feel the vibration in your chair. I actually do 50% music and 50% movies in my room. The Tektons that Eric built for me ( all in wall except for the two subwoofers ) are musical and provide excellent movie theater sound. You really don't need to spend that kind of money on a theater room of your size. Again, you are not doing critical listening in a TR, unless you are talking two channel. . Find a you tube video of Legacy Silhouettes just to give you an idea on the sound. Talk to Eric at Tekton and you can mention that he built an unique system for me. His custom DI in wall system goes for around 8K and that included the sub amp. Paradigm also has very good in wall systems.
Man I wish I had your budget. I would have the best of both worlds. A world class two channel system that is separate and an awesome theater room system. I don't know what kind of furniture you are going to put in but I have used 4seating.com for all of my theater rooms. Two of them had 12 chairs and my current one has 6.
Take your time and do more research. Sticking with Best Buy is ok but there are so many other professional installers in every city who can helo you also.
When I started I was thinking two big B&Ws upfront and visible with a center channel too, and everything else B&W hidden behind fabric-covered walls around the room, or up in the ceiling.
Now I am beginning to think I should hide all the speakers for the HT setup (now thinking Tektonic or Legacy Silhouette) and then run a parallel but separate 2-channel system (B&W or something else) for the 20% of the time I am listening to that.
I am not a fan of perforated screens. I don't care what screen makers say, I don't think you have as good of picture quality and sound quality if you are going to hide speakers behind a screen.
I hope we are helping....love that you are going to at least consider Legacy Silhouettes. If you call Bill Dudleson (sp?) at Legacy, he is the owner and he can help you. You may find that you don't need a separate two channel system with those speakers.
Where do you live? I have travelled the country looking for speakers. I hope you broaden your thinking on B&W.
The core of this system is the ATC speakers that are the self-powered version. Why ATC, and why self powered (aka “active”)? You’ll be hard pressed to find speakers that can match the dynamics, refinement, and distortion-free clarity of ATC speakers, which are desirable properties for home theater performance. The active versions of these speakers have internal amps that are specialized to power each driver individually and has further benefits in the crossover area, plus it absolves you of having to choose a separate outboard amplifier. I used to work for a dealer who sold both ATC and B&W, and especially for home theater ATC just blows pretty much everything away IMHO. 2-channel performance is more beholden to personal preferences, but ATC is outstanding in that realm as well so you may very well find this system more than satisfies for both theater and critical listening.
Since the amplification for the front channels is already taken care of, the next biggest decision is the preamp/processor that is the heart of the system. If you don’t think you’ll have any analog sources like a turntable or separate stereo preamp, I’d seriously consider the Lyngdorf because it’s a very good preamp but also employs their proprietary Room Perfect correction system that makes it very easy to optimize the sound in your room and maximize the “WOW” factor of the final result. If you REALLY want to max out the system for 2-channel and/or use a turntable I’d go with the Bryston as it has analog inputs and uses Dirac Live for room EQ that is also excellent.
Id also recommend using four subs as it’ll maximize performance for both HT and (believe it or not) stereo listening. IMO Rhythmic subs offer excellent design and performance for both music and movies at a reasonable price, but there are other excellent choices as well.
At this point the major core of the system is complete, and we’re “only” at $60k to $68k in equipment (plus video equipment and tax), so even adding all the rest you’re probably $50k or so under budget. This system may well blow you away for stereo listening as well, but with the $$$ left over you’d be well on your way to an excellent separate 2-channel system if you so desire. If it’s me and if you really like the sound of the ATCs, I’d just add a separate stereo preamp into this system for $6k-$10k that’d take your 2-channel performance up another notch. But that’s IF the stereo performance doesn’t wow you just using the pre/pro, which it may very well do.
As for the rest, to me the surround speakers and amp can be a little more flexible as long as they have a sonic signature similar to the front three. I’ll probably get eviscerated for saying that here, so I’ll just gracefully bow out on this now.
Cables and power conditioning are very important too at this level, and I just made some recommendations that I think would work well without spending a crap ton more $$$, but suffice it to say there are lots of other excellent options out there.
Last, and certainly not least, I’d use Magnolia for the install unless you have a rock solid recommendation for an installer from someone who’s actually used them before. Why? The HT install industry is littered with shady and/or under-financed characters who either do shoddy work or take forever to get a project completed — or both. I worked for Magnolia in the past and have gone on several of their installs, and I recommend them highly and would use them on my own home install. Why?
They do tons of installs so they tend to have experienced guys who really know what the hell they’re doing
They have a national reputation they actually care about and want to protect, and they really want to do a job right
They are owned by Best Buy so financing is never an issue
They are realistic about the time it’ll take to finish a job and they work very hard to adhere to that timeframe
They are very respectful of your home and even wear booties when in your home to protect your floors (it’s required by Magnolia)
This is a BIG one — when they quote you a price, that’s what the price will be no matter what. So if the job is harder than they thought or they run into expensive issues along the way, you’ll never have them come back and tell you they need more money for this or that. They eat it if the job requires extra work or materials to complete, and I’ve seen then do this several times.
They are actually very price competitive compared to independent installers due to volume cost efficiencies. I oversaw a $40,000 install for a neighbor of mine when I was with Magnolia, and we were $8000 cheaper than the next cheapest bid.
OK, my fingers are tired. Hope this helps, and best of luck in building your AMAZING system(s), and yeah I’m friggin’ jealous as hell.
My daughter lives in Southlake right near Central Market. I will admit I did check out theater room stores when I visited and felt that you really don't have that many local options for such a large city. Raven Audio has an office in Dallas. I almost purchased the RAven Speakers for my theater room. I did hear them at James Connel's house ( one of the owners). For run you may want to give him a call. He may be able to put together an unique set up.
You have a healthy budget and whatever you end up doing will probably be wonderful, just a few comments here. First, I don’t think that you require separate systems or speakers, one set for music and one for movies, especially at your budget. If speakers and amplifiers can’t be good for both, don’t bother, imo. (I have a dedicated two channel system-my “high end” system—and 2 HT systems with mid fi equipment. My main priority is listening to Classical Music, and both of my HT systems, while definitely a notch off the two channel, are still satisfying musically, and especially during the pandemic I have been listening to them more to move my rear end into a different room!). If I had two different systems in the same room, I would have bad Audiophilia Nervosa, constantly switching between them (Are these speakers really better for music?, etc). Just settle in with one system and enjoy. Second, I’m +1 on B&W speakers. They get a bad rap here, mainly because they have some ubiquity, but if you have enough power to drive them, they can really sing. Third, I would have all Speakers by the same manufacturer, to match timbre. I found myself having to replace a set of in walls when for music they were a bad match with the fronts. You can get good results with mix and match but it is more of a crapshoot. If the speakers don’t mix the discontinuity or mismatch can be obvious, and at your budget, with the increased resolving power of the rest of your system, it may be really obvious.
I'd recommend against spending so much on a projector. The technology is changing to fast and you'll find yourself wanting to upgrade in a few years and your investment Will have depreciated dramatically. At one point, I spent a rediculous amount on a Vidikron Vision One projector with a Snell & Wlcox video processor. Within a few years, I could replace it for something better for 15% of the cost. Technology might not be changing quite so fast today, but the image quality you can get for under $5k is pretty stunning.
Spend the money on a good screen and plan to upgrade your projector every few years and you'll soon easily surpass what you'd spend $25k on today for a fraction of the cost.
Okay. I changed the speakers to Tekton Design Ulfberht (9.x.4). The R/L/C will be visible but the sides and back will be in-wall. I haven't decided on subwoofer count yet, hence the "9.x.4"
Hat tip to willgolf for the introduction.
I probably won't see them for three months or so based on the back-ordered woofers at Tekton Design.
I'm a little worried the Ulfberht's will overpower the room visually if not sonically, but the reviews are too good to ignore. My wife can exercise good judgment and better taste in the other rooms in the house.
OMG those are massive. I think you will be unbelievably happy with the choice and you save a ton of money. I have a black wall on that side of my theater room so my DI in wall speakers are not obtrusive at all. That will be a cool look. I have grill for the speakers which makes them a little less intimidating also. Yes, it took me awhile to get mine so keep following up. The subs he built for me a massive also. I think you can see my theater room on the virtual forum under willgolf if you want to get an idea. Congrats!!!!
Also, you guys are starting to change my view on the setup. Where I was
thinking the 800 d3 could do double duty as a front speaker for the HT
and a main speaker for the audio system, I may be better off with Tekton
HT setup and a separate if co-located HiFi system.
Stick to the B&W. They are in a whole different class from the Tektons. They are much better and will be fine for both.
If you are not spending 10-20K on room acoustics and treatments cut your budget to 50K. You are throwing away the rest. Seriously.
In wall speakers placed in a standard wall are not great. If you aren't willing to rebuild the wall to create a proper stuff structure for them don't bother at least for the main surrounds. You are throwing money away.
Screen material is more important than the frame. What are you choosing for the material. This can have a bigger impact than the projector.
I would run a dedicated high current AC feed to a sub panel in the room. A single feed with a sub panel is electrically much better than multiple lines.
I tend to agree that Mac tends towards the euphonic not accurate and not best for HT though your processor when it does room correction will fix a lot of that. Their HT amps may behave differently. Odds are you would be as or more happy with all Bryston at the same or far less money.
Build the room. They audition mains. They get a center that matches and possibly the main rears. Matching the rest is not overly critical.
Maxwave - Thank you for the surge protector idea. I ordered one today based on the comment.
Audio2design - The acoustics comments make sense. Any suggestions on whose to buy?
As far as a screen, it looks like the consensus for 4k is woven in case I end up with the center channel behind the screen. The HT is an interior room, so no light issues. Any suggestions? I like the idea of one that adjusts sizes. Seymour is the only one I've seen do that.
I have in mind removing all the sheetrock and getting back to the studs as I thought it would make the wiring easier and allow for a sound barrier and then rehang the sheetrock
Pay someone. At your spend take money out of the equipment and put into room rebuild and acoustic design. Acoustic drywall, bass traps, absorption panels, diffusers etc. More than one post can address.
I have in mind removing all the sheetrock and getting back to the studs as I thought it would make the wiring easier and allow for a sound barrier and then rehang the sheetrock
If you’re going to do that, which I think is great if it’s in the budget, you should absolutely read Earl Geddes’ Premium Home Theater so you can see what options you have to make a truly great sounding room. It’s extremely approachable, useful, and informative, and you’ll get specific recommendations on types of sheetrock, insulation, resilient channels, etc. that can make a huge sonic difference and are not difficult to implement for any halfway decent carpenter who can follow simple directions. You’ll be very glad you know what this book has to say before you start the project.
And now, as Monty Python used to say, for something completely different. $150k is a good amount of money that in the right hands can get you absolutely stunning sound and video. Coincidentally that is about the budget for what you see here https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 A lot of that is in the analog front end. You would probably want to shift some or all of that over to a better projector and screen, or video monitor.
If what you want is superb sound and video this will be damn hard to beat. If you stick with the multichannel HT dogma you will never ever come even close. Just letting you know. But don’t take my word for it. Go to your box retailer (who is selling you all his high margin stuff while blowing smoke up your skirt about how he’s really your audio advisor and best friend in the whole world) and compare by listening to the different options between stereo and HT.
I can absolutely guarantee that it will not even be close. Because, whatever amount you decide to budget for speakers, it will simply buy you a whole lot better quality to spend it on 2 of them rather than 5. Same for amps, power cords, interconnects, speaker cables. Going multi-channel is the fastest way to guarantee spending a ton to achieve mediocrity. Just being honest. Wasted a whole year of my life trying to find good HT. Does not exist.
Oh, you can get pretty good. By HT standards. But even then you have to put it in another room. And all the guys who have done this will admit they spent a lot more money but the stereo still sounds way better.
So back to the box. Your biggest decision: are you wiling to think outside it? Or not?
"...I wouldn’t be interested in the green glow of McI stuff in the room. Yeah, I know, you can turn off the displays altogether)."
Check before considering, but at least on one amplifier you can turn the meters off while McIntosh name stays glowing. Multiply it by the number of items in the room and it may, or may not, add or subtract from overall experience. You save on Lava lamp.
Is Magnolia/Best Buy still selling Sonus Faber? If yes, listen to them before commiting to Bowers & Wilkins.
Sorry for quick off topic post but does anyone know how I can contact a moderator? I made an account just to post a want to buy listing, I guess they thought it was spam so they closed it. I still want to buy those things if I get the right offer though so I need a way to tell them Im a human being and it’s a real listing otherwise I dont know how to list it again without the same thing happening.
I like Audio Concepts in Dallas. They are very professional in my long experience with them, although I do not do home theater. Lone Star Audio Fest is scheduled for June. It is for stereo but a number of retailers attend that carry quality product lines.
I use my system about 50/50 for home theater and music. The sound is absolutely superb for both. Although I am not a fan of “surround sound” with speakers itching things in my ears that shouldn’t exist. I’ve gone for the two channel 3D holographic sound when it is done right with proper set up and room correction it is stunning. My last piece is BACCH which I based my system around. I haven’t saved the coin to add it yet but that is the final piece to the puzzle. I bump up the base a little when watching movies and usually have someone jump off the couch once in an action movie :). I have an acoustically transparent screen and the quality is so high with a 4K HDR picture I can’t see pixilation after 5ft. This allows the Maggie mains to breath 5ft off the wall in all directions which helps with room issues a built in set up would have. Just another take on many solid ideas you’ve seen presented here. Also I want to get the DCR Lens as well so I suppose there are two things I want to complete everything :)